Scrabble Battle Heats Up on Facebook

Dennis Faas's picture

Scrabble is finally coming to Facebook. If that surprises you because you thought it was already there, Electronic Arts (EA) lawyers would probably like to call you as a witness.

As we reported back in January, the popular Scrabulous feature on Facebook is entirely unofficial. Like most Facebook add-ons, it's run independently -- in this case, by two Indian brothers.

They are estimated to make around $25,000 a month selling adverts which appear beside the game. Given the obvious legal difficulties involved in profiting from another firm's game in this way, the pair specifically avoid the word Scrabble anywhere in their product.

However, that didn't fly with EA, which owns the electronic rights to the game. When Scrabulous launched, EA only had a video game version rather than an online edition. It launched a legal case against Scrabulous which soon went very quiet.

EA have now announced they'll be launching an official Scrabble application on Facebook later this month. It's in private testing at the moment, but a leaked screenshot shows, rather bizarrely, that it appears to look a lot less like the real thing than Scrabulous does. (Source:

The company isn't commenting on the legal ramifications of the launch, but it's very possible this is a last step before ramping up pressure on the brothers. After all, if EA had got Scrabulous shut down before launching a replacement, its public image would have taken a hit. And the Scrabulous makers can no longer claim to be filling a void -- a claim which has little or no legal bearing, but might have meant EA would have struggled to show actual lost revenue.

The hitch in EA's plan is that they have to follow the terms of their license. That means the official version of Scrabble will only be available to Facebook users in the United States and Canada. (Source:

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